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People’s Friend 

As Jeremy Corbyn addresses the masses at Glastonbury I give my thoughts on a middle class man addressing a middle class crowd and pretending to be a friend of the people. I don’t know why but this working class hero stuff is something I just don’t buy. You see if you are a unionist of any kind you are essentially a conservative maybe not in the economic sense but you certainly are in the social and cultural senses of the word. I’ve given the poem the title People’s Friend I hope you enjoy the read. 

People’s Friend

A middle class man 

quotes a middle class poet 

to the middle class gathering 

at a festival in middle England 

with ticket prices which only the rich can afford

meanwhile champagne socialists 

ignore Scotland 

till they need our votes to gain power 

at a Westminster election 

if we dare to challenge them

they call us insurgents 

leading an insurrection

as the self righteous  luvvie brigade 

play pretend politics 

with a crowd to apathetic to care 

about humanity 

and grandpa Jeremy desperately tries to re-live his youth 

as proof he can hang with the cool kids

except the kids he’s hanging out with 

aren’t quite as cool as they would have you believe 

and this imposter did a cut and paste job 

on large parts of the SNP domestic policy 

and had the brass neck to claim it 

as radical

as his vision for the many not the few 

even a so-called red couldn’t ditch the slogan 

which had tints of a Tory Blue Tony 

and just like that phoney his mask is beginning to slip 

You see voters like me won’t take lip.

from a Brexiteer who will always put himself first 

as he cynically attempts to manipulate the less aware

he has garden paths to lead them up 

and garden parties to attend 

this man whose style at Prime Minister’s Questions 

was enough to give me  indigestion 

raising points which we were meant to believe

 were sent by ordinary people 

rather than focus groups of party members 

the honourable member for  Islington 

is and has always been a servant of the Westminster agenda 

and had only  one mission for Britain 

namely to win the colony back for the crown 

unlike some I never bought his story 

the people’s friend , I see him as  just another red Tory 

though maybe not in the economic sense 

I’ll cut him a bit of slack 

but anyone who believes in the union flag 

is and always will be 

a conservative at heart 

it doesn’t matter how nice they are 

or how trendy or cool they pretend to be 

if they don’t want be to free from the last chains of empire 

they subconsciously out themselves as hypocrits and liars 

every time the word socialism passes their lips 

the little Brits lack the awareness to realise

you can’t have socialism in a kingdom 

united or otherwise 

it depends on the class system to survive 

as a middle class man 

who quotes a middle class poet 

to a middle class crowd 

knows only too well

as he pretends to be the people’s friend 

and remains no friend of Scotland. 
© Gayle Smith 2017 

After The Votes Were Counted The Result Was A Night Of Mixed Emotions

​This will not be an easy post to write nor indeed should it be. As I look back on the events of last Thursday evening it is I hope with a cool head that I review the results of the UK General Election and in particular what it means for the politics of Scotland. 

Having won 56 of the 59 Scottish seats in the election of  2015 it is I think fair to say that for the SNP this was always going to be a difficult night and I say that openly and with a Scottish National Party card in my purse. The fact this was a snap election called by Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May to get a mandate for her hard Brexit strategy seemed to wrong foot my party who just didn’t seem prepared for it or the fight it was going to bring. After all the only elections we were supposed to be fighting this year were of the local council variety. 

Talking of the council elections these should have given the SNP a warning of just how dirty  all the unionist parties were prepared to fight. The fact that there were all sorts of tactical voting arrangements in place to defeat SNP candidates should have sent a flashing amber light straight to SNP headquarters and the fact that it didn’t seem to do this is something I find very alarming indeed. All through the council election campaign all three leaders of the pro UK parties were talking of nothing else but the threat of  a second divisive independence referendum and a willing press and media allowed them the space to do so. 

It is my  opinion that the SNP were far too civilised on this issue and we should have went for the throat in a much more assertive manner with all of our pro union opponents and we should have went for Ruth Davidson in particular far harder than  we did and not let her get away with her outrageous and disgraceful behaviour against our democratically elected First Minister.  Ever since last year’s Scottish election Davidson has been acting as if she had won that election, and not the SNP. This should have been held up to ridicule and Davidson should have been forced to defend her Conservative policies rather than get away Brit free with  her one issue campaign on defending  her precious union. 

Now whilst this may be perceived as bias by those concerned I am more concerned  about our apparent lack of fight in meeting this ridiculous claim head on and forcing the unionists on to the back foot.  This must be at least to some extent responsible for our loses on Thursday night as more than any other  party SNP voters need to be inspired by a campaign that motivates them to vote and to me at least that didn’t happen this time 

The matter of tactical voting wasn’t taken anywhere near as seriously as it should have been by the SNP and it  wasn’t just unionists who were  doing it. There were in my opinion three groups of yes voters who exercised their own version of independence and  anyone who says this didn’t happen is denying reality. These groups were left leaning yes voters who voted Labour for Jeremy Corbyn and his vision of a fairer society, Yexit voters in rural areas especially but not exclusively in the North of Scotland , this was a group of voters who voted yes for independence in 2014 but voted to leave the European Union, and the stay at home voters who will always vote SNP when they go out to vote  but who if they feel the party has let them down or are not doing enough in key areas and have not been engaged by the manifesto or contacted by local activists  may exercise their democratic right to withhold their vote and there is no doubt that all three of these factors played against the party on this occasion.

 This however, could have been migitgated at local level if we had been a bit bolder in holding the unionist patties feet to the fire and challenging them on the authenticity and indeed sincerity of their views. For example we should have sought to make much more of the internal Labour Party fued between Jeremy Corbyn and his Scottish party leader Kezia Dugdale and highlighted the fact that far from being  Corbynistas the vast majority of the Scottish candidates had more in common with Kez than they did with Jez. 

Whilst I’m not sure it would have prevented any of our loses to Labour with the possible exception of Glasgow North East, I do believe that such tactics might have firmed up our majorities in a significant number of the seats we managed to hold thus making it easier to defend them at the next election. Instead of that it may well be the case though I hope it isn’t, that we have to go in to that election with the kind of fire fighting strategy aimed at avoiding a whole swathe of loses to Labour in what used to be their heartland seats.  It is my opinion that should this be the case the SNP will be looking at a return of between 18 -23 seats maximum and on a really bad night we could go down as low as 8-12. However if as I think we should, we take a more assertive line against our opponents I see no reason why we can’t win between 44-48 seats at the  next election. 

I believe we have to go down this road as I think there are dangers in playing too nice. Let’s face it we campaigned as the nice party in this election and it didn’t work and to be honest I don’t see it working in  future .  You can call me alarmist if you like, but I prefer realistic. You see I learned from the best my like lecturer in electoral behaviour Malcolm Dickson who did the System Three polls for the Herald and our resident professor who at that time gave guest lectures which I always made sure to attend. I am of course talking about the voice of elections in Scotland John Curtice who I am sure would happy to see one of his former students exercising such caution in their forecasting 

If  my caution is justified and born of out of both experience and I hope reason, my party’s caution was to some extent dictated by the fact that this was a Westminster election and the fact that the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn produced by their recent standards a radical manifesto which captured the imagination of voters throughout the UK and had I not been a member of the SNP and been so emotionally committed to my party and our ultimate aim of independence I could easily have been one of the yes voters who could have loaned my vote to Labour Party to get Jeremy Corbyn elected as Prime Minister.

The other key reasons for my party’s caution was the fact that having won an unrealistically high number of seats it was always going to be a night when the unionist voters would indulge themselves in a wee bit of tactical voting to get rid of some of our most talented and high profile MP’s whilst the media predicted the end of the road for our Westminster leader Angus Robertson who lost his Moray seat to the Conservatives, Callum Kerr and Richard Arkless who were the victims of a Conservative clean sweep in the Border constituencies Kirsteen Oswald whose East Renfrewshire seat once the safest Tory seat in Scotland returned to its natural home for the first time since the days of Alan Stewart, Stuart Donaldson in Kincardine And West Aberdeenshire and Pete Wishart who ironically enough fulfilled my  prediction and held on in Perth and North Perthshire. They didn’t pick up on others which were definitely on my vulnerable list such as Angus , Stirling, Ochil And South Perthshire,  and potentially Alex Salmond’s Gordon constituency  though I thought this was likely to be a Liberal Democrat gain rather than a Tory one.  

I have to say that the more the campaign went the more concerned I became for the SNP candidates who were fighting a difficult election on an agenda over which they had little control. At the beginning of the campaign I rather optimistically predicted that the Conservatives would get no more  than six seats and may even be lucky to get that. It is however fair to say that as the campaign progressed I began to see the direction of travel and it wasn’t travelling in our direction and even as a lifetime optimist I started to think the scale of our loses could be and in all probability would be far heavier than I first thought. Indeed on the morning of the election I forecast to a friend that my prediction for my party was between 38-44 seats, a far cry from the 48-52 seats most of my friends and even some sections of the press believed we would win. 

All things consideredthis  election was not a good one for the SNP or at least not on the surface , but if I take a closer look at it from a more personal perspective I think it could be discribed as a night of mixed emotions for me and my party. Yes we lost some serious big hitters from our ranks but  make no mistake we are a party with plenty of talent in our ranks and I hope that honourable members such as Alison Thewliss,  Chris Stephens,  Joanna Cherry , Lisa Cameron,  Mhairi Black ,  Stephen  Gethins , Stewart MacDonald , Tommy Sheppard and others will be given the chance to shine in this parliament and by doing so demonstrate the wealth of highly skilled representatives we have at our disposal.  
It is I think fair to say  that despite our  loses most of which were inevitable for a party in the mid term of a third term Scottish Government, and in an election when UK politics has been more polarised  than at any time since the 1980’s the SNP still won the Scottish part of this election. I believe to do this in the face of an unprecedented and vicious press and media onslaught represents a truly remarkable achievement from which we should take quiet satisfaction. You see by removing what they see as our most talented MP’s the Conservatives may actually have accidentally strengthened our hand as with no Angus or Alex to cast in the role of the bogeyman it will be so much harder for them cast us as a two man team now than was previously the case. 

Looking back on the  events of the night I have to say that after the votes were counted it was a night of mixed emotions.  From a personal  perspective I had as good an election as was going to be possible given the circumstances as  I watched with pride the return of several of my closest  political allies to serve as their constituency  MPs and my reputation for fairness and accuracy   as a political  pundit was vindicated by my early morning election day prediction being uncomfortably close to the truth 

Meanwhile with regards to the gains  made by the pro UK parties I will await with interest the verdict on the new Labour and Tory intake and how many of them will actually be up to the job. I suggest that it may not be quite as many as they think and once they have to talk on  issues other than their obsessive hatred of the SNP and independence they may  be found out for what they are and the SNP stand  best  placed to benefit from such a scenario.

 At the beginning of this campaign all the unionist leaders in Scotland said they wanted to send Nicola Sturgeon a message, and to a certain extent they got their wish. It is my opinion however, that sometimes people should be careful what they wish for as they may actually get it and find to their horror that it might  not be as good as they think.  

Till next time 

Gayle X

Mirrors Of Time 

​This poem was inspired by my good friend and current tartan tights man of the year Johnny Cypher as he gets ready to vote in his first General Election and has to make a choice between two contrasting visions of the future. In the poem I look back I hope with empathy at the 1983 UK General Election when I was in the same position Johnny is now. I’ve titled the poem Mirrors Of Time I hope you enjoy the read.  
Mirrors Of Time 

An intelligent thoughtful twenty something

contemplates his decision 

as yet unsure as to where he’ll place his cross on election day 

though he does know 

it won’t be for Theresa May 

and her selfish brand of conservatism

hatred and division are not his way 

he seeks to help others 

building bridges rather than barriers and walls 

he is aware of the fact 

his dreams may fall under a pile of ashes 

yet still he clings to them

hoping he might see change 

live in a better society 

than the one he has grown up in

this is someone who does something 

many people don’t 

he listens to opinions

in a way that others won’t 

taking an extra second to think things through 

before deciding what to do 

I understand him 

I respect his point of view 

I look back to 1983

and the women he knows 

can see herself 

through the mirrors of time 
© Gayle Smith 2017

The Press Wee Ruth And The Tory Truth And Deliberate Miscalculations (My Thoughts On The Scottish Local Elections)

This post is my personal take on the Scottish local elections  and now  that the dust is at last beginning to settle on them it is I think time to give my slant on the results  and explain why despite the fawning schophancy of a very compliant press and media deluding Ruth Davidson in to believing she had won these elections the results may not be as good as she thinks for herself or her party.

 I make this point because Tory expectations have been raised to what I think are unrealistic levels and this came through loud and clear as I followed the results on Twitter all through Friday from  morning till late afternoon. 

As a political campaigner it is fair to say that my twitter feed was buzzing during this period  as bit by bit we or at least of us who are actually interested discovered the composition of Scotland’s councils. There was I am sure some mixed feelings for activists of all hues as the picture from the results became clearer. Well as party members (whatever our party of choice) we will have friends standing for our parties and whisper it maybe even for some of our opponents. 

Yes it’s true,  elections are emotional times for all in party colours.   I make this point because those who are not involved in politics seem very quick to forget this and often tar everyone involved with the sane  heartless brush by commenting that they are all in it for themselves. This is not only untrue it is very unfair and if people knew how many hours potential candidates put in, in the run up to any election often after working in a full time or part time job they would be less inclined to parrot this nonsense.

As a member of the SNP it is fair to say that I had friends standing for election on Thursday many of whom were elected and some of whom were not and it broke my heart that due to injury I was unable to help out with the final push in the last week of the campaign or do my duty at a polling place on the day itself. Trust me with a badly sprained ankle it was hard enough to get to the polling station to cast my vote let alone do my usual shift for the party so being at home for most of the day meant I was unable to guage how the wards were going and catch up with the chat that is a feature of these occasions. 

As the first results came in it was evident that the SNP had  done well and held our ground in terms of vote share from the last council elections in 2012 though the electoral geography of our vote had shifted westward with gains in the Labour heartlands of Lanarkshire Renfrewshire and Glasgow and modest losses to the Conservatives  in what some would call the more traditional party strongholds in the north east of Scotland such as Angus where along with Dundee the party lost its overall majority’s  Perthshire, and Aberdeenshire. 

 To be fair these results weren’t entirely unexpected  especially since the Tories have been given a free ride by a unionist press desperate to dent the fortunes of the SNP in any way they can. It must really upset the powers that be that most of the conservative gains at least in terms of voters came not from the SNP but their fellow unionists in the Labour Party as those of a unionist mindset played musical chairs with the council seats in towns and cities from the Highlands to the Borders  Yet despite the large number of  conservative gains and downright lies on certain television channels that Tories had won Scotland  it was the SNP who energed victorious from these elections and winning 431 seats to the Conservatives 276. This means that the SNP 155 more councillors than the Conservatives. 

This is by any stretch of the imagination a significant victory for the party as when you compare like for  like elections this represents a five fold increase in the SNP majority over the second placed party from 2012 when they had only a 31 seat majority over The Labour Party. So this is not quite the fairytale comeback the Conservatives would have you believe. That however will not stop the press and media both in Scotland and in the UK from trying to peddle this non story as the greatest comeback since Lazarus. Make no mistake there are agenda’s play here as a  predominantly right wing establishment tries to rebrand Britishness to Scotland after what it sees as our disastrous flirtation with independence. They badly need the voters to believe the  story that the Tories are as popular in Scotland as they are in England and Wales. The results however give a slightly different narrative, and whilst it is true to say that they did make gains including some  in places one would never have thought of it is I think important to stress one key  fact which may have come in to play which may not be so beneficial to them in a General Election 

Younger Voters Often Ignore Local Elections But Older People Always  Vote 

A simple statement but nonetheless a true one, many younger voters don’t vote in local elections. This may be due to a combination of reasons including the following 

  1. Younger voters have busy lives and some of them may be busy with important college or university exams. 
  2. Many younger voters will have a heavy workload and will be trying to climb the career ladder  or out searching for employment 
  3. local government elections are seen as less relevant than national elections 
  4. you can’t get as excited over bin collections as you would over independence,  Fracking, or The NHS. 
  5. Some younger voters may feel disenfranchised and feel that no party speaks for them 

Any or all of these reasons can be applied to an individual’s circumstances as to why as a younger person may not have  voted on Thursday and there may be  half a million others I haven’t began to contemplate but whereas our younger voters may not have went to the polling booths our older voters  did and they did so in great numbers. Since the majority of older voters are pro union, this when combined with the voting system used at this election disproportionately assisted The Conservative Party and indeed to a significant extent The Labour Party which I believe it saved from electoral oblivion. This I think can only benefit the SNP at the forthcoming general election as I believe it will have shaken many of the SNP voters out of any complacency which may have been creeping in after 10 years as the dominant party in Scotland.  

There is no doubt that in my opinion even as an SNP member our party needed to be challenged to prevent it becoming stale. However few if any of us would have expected that the challenge to come from the right  especially  the hard right Conservative Party.  The fact that this council election saw the return of working class conservatism and saw Conservative councillors elected in Shettleston , and The Calton should be a worry. for all of us on the socially Liberal left and that this at least to some extent was due to the hard-line orange vote should be of significant concern to those voters on both sides of the constitutional debate who value the kind of inclusive society the Conservative  Party stand opposed to.

It  is my opinion that  those involved in politics  can  clearly see, that the incendiary language the unionist parties and in particular the Conservatives have been using to describe the prospect of a second  independence referendum has been framed to target this demographic  by a party  who due to their toxic stand on the independence issue need all the unionist votes they can get 

Whilst it’s true to say the SNP will be disappointed not to have gained overall control of the city the fact they have become the largest party in the city chambers cannot overlooked and is in itself a magnificent achievement of which the party can be justifiably proud. This result and many others throughout Scotland is I believe all the greater when one considers the toxic campaigns of both the Labour and Conservative parties who refused point blank to conduct debate  which actually mentioned local issues.  Instead both main Westminster parties showed what in my opinion amounts to  a hysterical obsession with independence. 

  Now whilst the almost constant reinforcement of this message through the press and media may have benefited the Conservatives to some extent it worked against Labour in pretty spectacular style and succeeded only in diminishing both their influence and profile in many of their staunchest heartlands. With a snap general election called for June I would suggest that this tactic has backfired in the sense that a Labour Party who are sitting in second place in most of the constituencies held by the SNP have now been upstaged by the Conservatives who despite both their  Scottish and UK leaders boasts are nowhere near to winning the majority of votes or seats in Scotland and Ruth Davidson and Theresa May  might be about to find out that they are nowhere near as popular as the press has led them to believe.Indeed the Conservative party are only the majority party in four council areas in the whole of Scotland whereas the SNP occupy that position in 16 councils and tied for control in another three, now pardon me for shining a light on the Tory spin machine but I think 16 is more than 4 just as I think 431 is more than 276.My reason for that is simple, when I went to school I actually learned to count. I also learned how to distinguish  fantasy from reality.  I don’t think the Scottish Conservatives can say the same. 

Yes it’s true to say they made the greatest number of gains but we start allow their supporters to eulogise on the virtues of Saint Ruth I should point out two important facts that the media are ignoring. I have already mentioned one of them but both need to be put out there so the public know the truth of this so-called Tory revival

These Are The Facts The Media Ignored 

 (1) The vast majority  of the Conservative vote increased were gained at the expense of The Labour Party whose more hard-line unionist voters voted to endorse Ruth Davidson’s message to send a message to the SNP that they didn’t want a second independence referendum.  This is despite the fact that local council authorities are powerless to stop such a referendum taking place 

(2) The Conservatives were starting from such a low start base having only polled 13%  in 2012 they could have a made as few as 50 gains and still promoted it as a revival. Indeed if we are honest about it all parties can find something to smile about and  some causes for concern as they analyse the numbers from the vote.

As for me, I have already said that this was an emotional election and that was due to the fact I knew so many good candidates who were primarily though  not exclusively  from the SNP.  Due to the results particularly in  Glasgow, I now have a number of friends who have been elected to serve their local communities and yes there were tears both of joy and sorrow as the results were declared. 

The Joy came for Christina Cannon and Graham Campbell in Springburn/Robroyston, Stephen Dornan in Govan, David McDonald in Pollok, Greg Hepburn, and Jennifer Layden in Calton, Laura Doherty and Michelle Ferns in Shettleston where the SNP got more councillors than The Conservatives despite what the  media would have you believe, and Elaine Ballantyne in my local ward of Baillieston. There were also personal  reasons to cheerful outside Glasgow with great results for Katy Loudoun in Cambuslang  East, and Lorraine Cameron in Paisley South West.

There were however even on a good night, some disappointments for me and my party. In my local ward  we lost a fantastic and hard working  councillor in David Turner who had served his community well since first being elected at a by-election in 2008. There were also  tears of sadness for two excellent first time candidates, Alex Kerr who lost out in Shettleston, and Linda Pike who suffered a similar fate in the  Calton. As members of my branch I know that both  Alex and Linda would have been hard working and committed councillors who would have made a real impact in their communities  but on this occasion at least it wasn’t to be. However I am sure both of them will continue to be great assets to the SNP in general and in the East End of Glasgow in particular.

Those defeats aside these elections were good for the SNP especially when you consider they are now a third term  government in the Scottish Parliament so I think claims by unionist politicians and their supporters that we have reached peak SNP are at best propaganda  and at worst competely deluded. Had this been true  I think the SNP would almost certainly have incurred at least the same scale of losses as the Labour Party and probably much worse. After all, we are told every day how bad they by a fanatical pro UK press how bad they are.  

There is however only one problem with this narrative and that is that at least 45% are becoming  incessantly bored by what  they see as unionist whining in which they paint a very bleak future of Scotland under the SNP  but offer precisely nothing in the way of alternative solutions and that is where the would be empress Ruth is found not to be wearing any new clothes but the second hand  rags of  the most hated UK Prime Minister in the history of the union.

The name of that Prime Minister in case Ruth needs reminding was Margaret  Hilda Thatcher. Now Ruth may like to delude herself that the Tories have moved on from those days but she is fooling only herself. You see no matter how badly the opinion formers try to shape our thoughts through the press ,wee Ruth and the Tory truth and deliberate  miscalculations . The statistics of these elections show the Conservatives whilst  doing well when compared with 2012 have at best improved only marginally since  last year’s Scottish Election and may not be as loved by the voters of Scotland as they are by the chattering classes in the unionist press and media. 
Till next time

Gayle  X

Scroungers (A Tabloid  Tory Has An Ephiney)

On day 19 of NaPoWriMo My poem takes a satirical look at  press and media stereotypes. These stereotypes  are all too often used by the establishment to label and demonise those groups society consideres different like Immigrants and Disabled People and have a really negative impact if we don’t counter act them .I have given my poem the title Scroungers, I hope you enjoy the read. 

Scroungers 

I hate scroungers 

I really do 

coming over here to live off 

our resources 

taking things from the likes of me and you 

they get all the best housing 

it’s true I read it in the Daily Mail 

and that’s a paper I trust

I’m glad we’re leaving Europe 

and putting Britain first 

it will stop all those Poles

taking our jobs

we need to make Britain great 

believe in the United Kingdom 

well Britain’s got talent 

and the X-factor is the envy of the world 

it really it is 

I think Simon Cowell should be Prime Minister 

he’d soon put a stop to all these immigrants 

flooding our country 

with all those languages and traditions

can they not understand this is Britain 

we don’t want this kind of nonsense 

and as for Scotland I don’t want independence 

I don’t support separation 

I get all the political education I need 

from the Daily Express 

that’s why I hate Nicola Sturgeon 

I mean anyone who wears  a red dress that often 

has to be a communist

and I hate communists I really do 

I’m all for the union 

three cheers for the red white and blue 

I know I’m poor and all the royals and lords are stinking rich 

so what life’s a bitch 

but these people need the extra money 

what do you mean I’m a Tory 

I’ve voted Labour all of my days 

but I think Theresa May is better to lead the  country 

she knows how to put people in their place 

she’s told them in Europe 

we’re leaving and that’s the way it is 

we’re going through the trap door 

and we’re going to get rid of all the European laws 

We’ll ban the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus 

but poverty will be still be allowed 

and disabled people will have their benefits cut 

for being scroungers 

there  a drain on our resources 

and a burden on the state 

what have they ever done to make Britain great ?

nothing, 

it’s not shocking 
who the hell is Stephen Hawking ?

was he in the paralympic team 

god save our gracious Queen 

what do you mean she costs too much ?

that’s not true or I would have read in the Sun 

 or saw it on the BBC News 

I know everything I need to know 

and that’s not a lot 

I’m British not a Scot 

and I might vote Tory

I believe in a land of hope and glory

even if it kills me and it might 

I know I’m right to hate scroungers 

what’s that it’s a pity I don’t know who the real scroungers are 

seriously, the bankers are worse than the immigrants ? 

The United Kingdom is run by and for the privileged 

and they don’t give a damn about me 

well …

maybe being British isn’t so great after all 
© Gayle Smith 2017 

Inquisition 

On day 4 of  NaPoWriMo My topic is probably my most controversial to date as Ive written on the Benefits Assessment process. I’ve given it the title Inquisition and anyone who has ever been through it will know why.  If this doesn’t scare you as to what Brexit Britain is really going to be like then I really don’t know what will I hope you’ll enjoy what will be a challenging and thought provoking read. 
Inquisition 

Good morning 

my inquisitor speaks 

inviting me 

to walk this way 

well you did that with aplomb 

he says  

so let me tick this box 

can walk unaided 

please miss take a seat 

I do as requested 

he suggests I dont look  like 

what he calls one of them 

I ask if he means disabled

well I don’t like to label 

he replies

he lies his job depends on ticking boxes 

marked deserving and undeversing poor

to see who qualifies 

for the ever generous handouts

to be given in the caring conservative UK

where everyone has a stake 

in how the country is run 

well everyone who went to private schools 

where they learn the rules

they will obey without question 

and be taught to look down on anyone 

who is not the same as them 

doesn’t conform to the norms and values 

which fit their way of thinking 

if Charles Dickens could see us now 

he would despair and ask 

has nobody read my novels 

I warned you that the powers that be 

want you to grovel for crumbs from their table. 

disabled people are still seen as a burden on resources 

not fit for purpose 

my inquisitor asks if I can ride a bike 

seems offended when I tell him I can’t

switching the line of enquiry 

he asks how far can I walk without pain 

I say this depends on the weather conditions 

too much sun can restrict the vision 

of someone with a visual impairment 

whilst the snow and ice

 could mean my balance issues 

kick in 

he seems distracted by my answers 

I’m not rolling over in fear 

not reading the script he wants to hear 

I’m standing my ground 

I flirt 

he comments on the length of my skirt  

that it sits on the knee

and I appear well dressed 

I try my best I reply 

though there are things I can’t wear 

like that nice cream blouse

your colleague has on 

it’s smart and I have one in my wardrobe 

but I need help fastening the buttons 

it’s the same with suspenders

I can’t do the hooks 

you should see the look on his face 

it’s priceless the way he’s blushing 

his face is as pink

 as the lipstick I applied in the ladies room 

just before I was called in for interview 

he doesn’t know what to do 

or how to cope 

with a fifty something woman 

who has him on the ropes 

I watched boxing in my teens 

so this girl from the schemes 

knows how to fight 

it’s all about getting your tactics right 

so I listen to the questions 

then take them apart 

I inform my inquisitor 

that medical conditions vary 

he finds this scary

it makes him nervous that he can’t do his box ticking task 

I say that some of the questions he asks

are loaded and value laden 

then offer him an explanation as to why 

he seems nervous, perplexed even a little vexed 

that someone questions his authority 

I tell him not to worry 

reassure him it’s nothing personal 

I just need the money I receive 

to meet my most basic needs 

I do not bleed money from the welfare system 

nor will I ever 

I am clever and talented 

shouldn’t have to put up with platitudes or labels 

he is correct to say

 you can’t tell if someone is disabled just by looking 

but if he asked me to prepare and cook a meal 

he would soon see where my problems lay 

and if he had to taste it 

he would rue the day 

his mask slips 

there are no quips 

except my parting shot 

which I deliver by  saying 

this country needs to start 

putting people before profit 

and caring for those disadvantaged 

by circumstances not of their making 

eventually it’s over

the inquisitor gets up from his seat 

I rise from my chair

I sense his despair 

kñow he has ticked the right boxes 

and think I have shaken  

more than just his hand 

 © Gayle Smith 2017 

Lessons 

On day 3 of NaPoWriMo it is time for a political poem and it may not come as too much of a shock that the  topic of choice is independence. What may however be a bit of a surprise is that the tone of the poem comes as a warning to yes supporters to learn the lessons of history to avoid repeating the mistakes and indeed disappointments of 2014. In this poem I urge our supporters to offer the hand of friendship to those voters who voted no in 2014 and set about winning them over to Yes and winning a better Scotland because of it. I have given it the title  Lessons I hope you enjoy the read 
Lessons
If Scotland is ever to see the day 

when we become an independent self governing nation 

we must learn the lessons of the last campaign 

we cannot afford to win the day 

and lose the future 

economics may be not my seducer 

but it is effective for many 

and that penny needs to drop  

we have to recognise its power 

or the flower of Scotland will never truly bloom 

our country will not be won 

by slogans, clipboards, and demonstrations 

though they will play a part 

we must use the head and speak from the heart 

be inclusive of all communities 

and not be afraid of tackling deeply held prejudices 

amongst our own supporters 

as to why we think the way we do 

this will be a challenge 

but it has to be faced 

we can’t simply wish it away 

and hope our opponents are magically cured 

of the loyalties which bind them to  union 

this is why we never won last time 

we need to engage and say clearly and with honestly 

we can offer no guarantees 

but neither can our opponents 

and we need to call them out 

when they claim otherwise 

there are no such thing as certainties 

to pretend that the present is set in stone 

is not the solution 

we were told we would never leave 

the European Union 

yet Brexit and the isolation it will bring 

will turn us more selfish and right wing

as gradually the UK becomes ever more insular 

with xenophobia masked as the new patriotism 

this is a vision I do not share 

I despair that our civic Scotland will be under threat 

and every word we say will be scrutinised 

the smears and lies have already started 

winning the future is not a job for the faint hearted 

we have to offer the hand of friendship 

to those who voted no in 2014 

not accuse them of killing our dreams 

in moments of anger and frustration 

it is too easy to throw about words like independence and nation 

without explaining why we would better than Westminster 

at running our own affairs 

I want to live in a country that cares 

for our most vulnerable citizens 

not a United Kingdom based on wealth patronage and privilege 

that’s why my identity is Scottish not British

I don’t want to live a land which still fantasises  

about a past when they called other countries colonies 

whilst keeping their own people poor in the name of empire 

 telling them they should be proud 

they couldn’t feed their families 

I don’t want to live in a country 

where people are devalued due to race , religion , gender or sexuality 

where diversity is demonised 

and difference is viewed with fear 

to me  these kind of attitudes

are barriers to the progressive society 

I’ve always believed in 

I know there will be some in both the SNP and yes

who will be uncomfortable with me 

because of the way I dress 

and the fact I am a woman with a trans past 

but I’m prepared to take the chance

 that our very different versions of what independence should mean 

will be keenly contested in elections in which Scotland’s voters matter 

as for now I’ll accept them as allies 

in defeating the spin and patter 

coming from unionists with agendas 

the way the Tories have been behaving 

they might as well start singing no surrender or Rule Britannia

or giving pensioners free photographs of Margaret Thatcher

rather than trying to pretend 

they give a damn about our country 

we need to debate them on the issues

we need to win ugly 

by convincing those voters who are willing to listen 

that Britain belongs in the past 

though I admit it  may have been good for some 

 this battle needs won 

not for Auld Lang Syne 

nor memories of old 

we’ve got to be bold for the future generations

those growing up 

and others still to see the day 

it is their future that’s at risk 

we can , we must, we will do better than this 

when we learn our lessons 

the future will be ours. 

@ Gayle Smith 2017